Nation Observes Burial Day
NATION OBSERVES BURIAL DAY.
When King David lay dead, at the
threshold of Judah’s mighty era, the Bible tells us “There was sorrow
in the cities.”
That, better than any other language
that could be employed, describes the state of affairs in the United
States of America when the body of the dead President lay in state
in the town which had been his home on the day of his burial. Every
city in the land chose its own methods of expressing the grief that
was felt, but all united, at the selfsame hour, to express in the
several ways the grief that was felt for the nation’s bereavement.
In Canton, of course, the expression
of sorrow was profound. Nothing else occupied the attention or the
time of any one within the gates of the city but that one great,
In Washington all the many public
offices of the government were closed, and the army of employees
gave the day to sorrowing for the dead. There were services in nearly
all of the churches. Theaters were closed. No places of amusement
admitted frequenters. The storm-drenched draperies of woe that had
been spread so lavishly on the day the remains of the President
arrived from Buffalo, gave a drearier aspect to the silent and sorrowing
city. There was little travel. Street cars nearly vacant hummed
unchecked through the streets. Galleries and points usually sought
by visitors were left quite abandoned. Even the great Washington
Monument had fewer visitors than on any day since President Garfield
lay in state in the White House.
In Chicago there were services in
the Auditorium, presided over by some of the foremost citizens,
and addressed by orators of note throughout the nation. A multitude
of social organizations joined in a monster parade. It was a general
holiday, and workmen laid down the tools of their craft, and postponed
activity and wage-earning till the body of the dead should be at
rest. Naval veterans from the war with Spain formed a compact phalanx
and marched for the last time in honor of him who had been their
In New Orleans a general holiday also
was decreed, and schools were closed; shops were deserted; the activity
of the city was still. It has been 
described as nearly approaching those distressful days when the
fear of the plague had laid a silencing hand on the industries of
the town. There was no fear in the present case. But the pall of
a sorrow was great enough to palsy all movement. President McKinley
had endeared himself to the people of the South as no other President
had done since the civil war. His trip across the continent last
May was of the greatest benefit to his fame and popularity in the
South. It was realized that here was a man who was President of
the whole United States, and that he held those in that section
of the country as close to his heart and his hope as the people
of any other section.
In San Francisco a service was held
in the City Hall, addressed by a number of the prominent citizens.
It was here that Mrs. McKinley was taken ill when the Presidential
party was on its journey across the country; and it was here that
President McKinley gave that great evidence of his devotion to his
wife. It disarranged the plans of the people who had the trip in
charge, and of the managers of the fair at which he was to have
appeared. But above and beyond all desire for profit was their recognition
of the generous and noble qualities of the man. And they paid their
heartfelt tribute to the departed.
In Montreal, Canada, the provincial
synod of the Anglican Church held a memorial service in Christ Church
cathedral in honor of the memory of President McKinley. The Duke
of York, who was in the city at the time, attended the service,
and gave every evidence of that grief which he had at other times
expressed. It had been the intention of the city authorities of
Montreal to give a series of fetes in honor of the Duke and the
Duchess, as has been the custom in most of the cities which they
have visited in the course of their tour about the world, forming
the better acquaintance of the subjects of the English King. But
these plans were abandoned, although a large sum of money had already
been expended. Neither the Duke nor his wife wished to proceed with
London was a city of sorrow. The recent
death of the Queen had called forth expressions of sorrow from President
McKinley and the people of the United States which had touched a
very tender chord in the nature of the Englishmen. And they were
grieved beyond expression at the disaster that had befallen the
Republic. They devoted the day to a special service in Westminster
Abbey, a rare performance indeed. Portraits of President McKinley
were displayed in all the shop windows, and were freely sold on
the streets. All the papers of the British capital printed expressions
 of sorrow and of appreciation
of the good qualities of the man who had passed away, and all expressed
the hope that the nation would be comforted in its grief. One of
the most touching features of their publications was the tone of
sympathy for Mrs. McKinley. There was a pathos about these words
which keenly recalled the late bereavement of the nation of Victoria.
Funeral services were held in far-away
Manila. All the government offices were closed, and the buildings
were draped in black. There was a peculiar sadness in the crowds
that passed up and down the streets. Most business houses were closed
for half the day, some for the entire day. Among the expressions
of sorrow sent from Manila was one from Emilio Aguinaldo. He declared
President McKinley a noble enemy, and a valued friend, and for the
good of all the people under the flag of the Republic he could not
but look on the death of such a man, particularly in such a manner,
as an unparalleled calamity. He gave utterance to the most vigorous
condemnation of the dastardly act which cost the President his life.
And so, from the rising to the setting
of the sun, “there was sorrow in the cities.” It was not in the
big cities alone. Wherever communities had been gathered, there
was sorrow, and the effort to express the grief that was universal
throughout the nation. Churches were filled with communicants and
friends. Men and women who had not been in the habit of attending
divine services made this the occasion when they paid their tribute
of respect to the memory of a great man fallen. Pastors and orators
employed their best talents in extolling the virtues of the dead,
and holding out hope to the living.
And not even in the cities—large or
small—was the grief monopolized. There was not a farm house, perhaps,
in the land where grief was absent. In those hours when the service
was being conducted over the bier of the martyred President in Canton,
there was a bowing of heads throughout every part of the land. The
beneficent results of the public labors of this man had reached
to the farthest home, and the fame of his loyal manhood had penetrated
all hearts. He was loved and honored and mourned. And the nation
paused at the brink of his grave, in body or in spirit, whether
they stood in the city he had called his home, and whether they
held to their places at any other point in the broad land.
The sorrow of the cities bathed all
the land in tears.
Of all the tributes paid to the memory
of the dead President, none approached in majesty and impressiveness
that utter abandonment of all 
occupation for the moments when the burial was actually taking place.
For five minutes, from 2:30 to 2:35, there was absolute rest throughout
the nation. That was the time when the body of the murdered President
was being lifted to its last final repose.
And from the Atlantic to the Pacific,
not a wheel turned for those five minutes.
For the space of five minutes every
train in the country was stopped, and held motionless. Engineers,
firemen, conductors and crews paused for that period in their occupation,
turned devoutly to the little town where the last sad rites were
being performed, and sent their thoughts out to the hovering spirit
of the man who had fallen.
Labor in shop, in store, on farm,
in mill—everywhere—had ceased.
That stopping of America, that pause
of the United States, that wait of every citizen while the body
of one dead was lowered to the tomb, is a mightier miracle than
that which marked the last victory of Judea’s leader.
Five minutes taken out of life! Five
minutes snatched from activity, lost to productive effort, subtracted
from material struggle! It is an amazing thing in the most energetic,
the most thrifty nation on the face of the earth.
And yet that five minutes, stricken
from the total money value of the day, brought in return a sense
of tenderness, of fraternity with all the other millions waiting,
bowed and reverent, which nothing else could have produced. That
five minutes was the best investment that busy lives could make.
It brought them nearer to the ideal life that had been ended. It
helped to impress upon them the value of his splendid example. It
gave them a better confidence in the citizenship of America. It
enacted anew the law of love, and blessed with its swift ministrations
the purer patriotism for which this man of the people, this believer
in God had stood as a representative.
Silence and tears for the noble victim
of malignant hate; new resolves for the upholding of law and the
extension of real liberty; unbounded faith in the stability of our
republican institutions; an impressive warning to the foes of order—such
was the day’s meaning to every loyal American citizen.
Eighty millions of people gathered
about six feet by two of hallowed earth! That is the spectacle bought
at a price so matchless.